The college is committed to equal opportunities and to providing an environment in which all staff, students and those for whom the college has a special responsibility (for example visiting academics and students – henceforth referred to as “visitors”) are treated with dignity and respect and in which they can work and study free from any type of discrimination, harassment, or victimization. All members of College are responsible for upholding this policy and should act in accordance with the policy guidance in the course of their day-to-day work or study, ensuring an environment in which the dignity of other staff, students, and visitors is respected. Offensive behaviour will not be tolerated. Harassment will be treated as a serious offence which is punishable under the College’s disciplinary procedures.
This Policy, and the Code of Practice which accompanies it, apply to the academic and office staff of the College, undergraduate and graduate students, and all others for whom the College is responsible. References to ‘academic staff’ include principal / Teacher-in-Charge, Full time and Part time teachers and Guest lecturers, who teach the students of the College.
The College is committed to making all staff and students aware of this policy and the accompanying guidance and to providing effective guidance and briefing on it. The College takes steps to ensure that both the policy and guidance are fully understood and implemented.
Management of College and all faculties, staff members, including students, have specific responsibilities. These include setting a good personal example, making it clear that harassment will not be tolerated, being familiar with, explaining, and offering guidance on this policy and the consequences of breaching it, investigating reports of harassment, taking corrective action if appropriate, and ensuring that victimisation does not occur as a result of a complaint.
Definition of Harassment
Harassment is unwanted conduct on the grounds of sex, marital status, gender reassignment, race, disability, religion/belief, sexual orientation or age that violates a person’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
Harassment on grounds of sex, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or age may amount to unlawful discrimination. Harassment may also breach other legislation and may in some circumstances be a criminal offence. Harassment may occur through the use of internet, email, or telephone.
The other person’s motives are not the main factor in deciding if behaviour amounts to harassment. Just because certain behaviour may be acceptable to the alleged harasser or another person does not mean it is not harassment. Being under the influence of alcohol or otherwise intoxicated will not be admitted as an excuse for harassment, and may be regarded as an aggravating feature. Bullying may be characterised by offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient. It includes any behaviour which makes someone else feel threatened, frightened, humiliated or taken advantage of. Some common forms of verbal abuse include verbal abuse; taunting; setting impossible deadlines or objectives; withholding key information or giving false information.
Victimisation occurs specifically when a person is treated less favourably because he/she has asserted his/her rights under this guidance, either in making a complaint or in assisting a complainant in an investigation. The College will protect any member of staff, student, or visitor from victimisation for bringing a complaint or assisting in an investigation. Victimisation is a form of misconduct which may in it result in a disciplinary process, regardless of the outcome of the original complaint of harassment.
Sexual harassment has been characterised as a particularly degrading and unacceptable form of treatment, as well as a unlawful, such that a victim may bring legal proceedings. If the conduct amounts to assault it may also constitute a criminal offence. Complaints that sexual harassment has occurred between persons to whom this Policy and the accompanying Code of Practice apply will be taken seriously by the College, and where appropriate may result in disciplinary proceedings. The College will appropriately deal with the incidence of sexual harassment in the College, resolve the complaints, in an appropriate manner through the anti-harassment cell constituted for the purpose..
Sexual harassment is direct sex discrimination by way of uninvited conduct based on the sex of the recipient which is intimidating, hostile or offensive to the recipient. It may include unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature which the recipient finds intimidating, hostile or offensive, ranging from unwelcome sexual advances, unpleasant remarks, to the display of offensive material of an explicitly sexual nature. Such conduct may be physical, verbal or nonverbal. An aggravating feature of some cases of sexual harassment may be the abuse of a position of authority or trust. The policy of the college in this regard dictates that the provisions of the Sex Discrimination Act and the Equality Act cover homosexual as well as heterosexual harassment.
Reasonable and proper management instructions administered in a fair and proper way, or reasonable and proper review of a member of staff’s or a student’s work and/or performance will not constitute harassment. Behaviour will not amount to harassment if the conduct complained of could not reasonably be perceived as offensive.
In summary, examples of behaviour that may constitute harassment are:
- Verbal or physical threats;
- Insulting, abusive, embarrassing or patronising behaviour or comments;
- Offensive gestures, language, rumours, gossip or jokes;
- Humiliating, intimidating, demeaning and/or persistent criticism;
- Open hostility;
- Suggestive comments or body language;
- Isolation or exclusion from normal work or study place
- Publishing, circulating or displaying pornographic, racist, sexually suggestive or otherwise offensive pictures or other materials;
- Unwanted physical contact, ranging from an invasion of space to a serious assault
(The above list is not intended to be exhaustive.)
Advice to individuals who may be suffering one or more forms of harassment
Individuals may be unsure whether certain behaviour amounts to harassment. The first step may be to discuss the matter in confidence with a friend or colleague who is familiar with the College setting. Members of staff may want to discuss the matter with immediate superiors, College Management and colleagues. Students may want to discuss the matter with the teacher or any other college officials with pastoral responsibilities.
Format of Complaints
Written complaints take the form of a letter or memorandum describing the conduct on which the complaint is based. It will include:
- the date(s) and place(s) on which the offensive conduct occurred,
- the names of any witnesses, and the name of the respondent
- any efforts to resolve the complaint and the results of these efforts
- if appropriate, the specific outcome the complainant seeks
Filing of Complaints
Students: As noted above, complaints against undergraduate students should be filed to the Head of the Department.
Employees: Complaints against employees should be filed to the Principal/Teacher-in-Charge.
Notification of Respondent
Within fifteen (15) working days of the receipt of the complaint, the coordinator of the anti-harassment cell ,will notify the respondent in writing, advise the respondent of the name of the complainant, the nature of the allegations, refer the respondent to this policy, and provide a copy of the complaint. The Coordinator will confer with the complainant and the respondent independently to review options for resolution of the complaint. The complainant, with the assistance of the Coordinator, will choose the option he or she prefers, subject to the right of the respondent to request mediation or the appointment of a Harassment Hearing Committee (see Hearing Committee, below). The respondent will also be advised that any speech or conduct threatening or constituting retaliation against the complainant will be regarded as a serious and separate infraction.
Either the complainant or the respondent may request the Coordinator to attempt resolution of the complaint through mediation. Either party may decline to participate, or the Coordinator/Principal reserves the right to decline mediation if the Coordinator deems that it is not appropriate as to the particular complaint. If the parties agree to mediate and good faith efforts to mediate the complaint are ongoing, the Coordinator may suspend other complaint resolution options. If, through mediation, a settlement is agreed to by both parties and approved by the Coordinator, no further option for resolution will be available. The case will be recorded in the institutional tally and institutional memory file.
If no settlement is reached, the complainant may choose either the Administrative Resolution or the Hearing Committee option.
The complainant has the exclusive prerogative of choosing the administrative resolution option, subject to the right of the Coordinator to determine that administrative resolution is not appropriate in the given case or the right of the respondent or the Teacher-in-Charge / Principal to request the appointment of a Harassment Hearing Committee (see Hearing Committee, below).
In an Administrative Resolution, the Teacher-in-Charge / Principal with whom the complaint is filed will review the complaint with the Coordinator and the complainant and will also meet with the respondent. The Coordinator will then seek to resolve any factual disputes by interviewing witnesses and reviewing documents in order to establish the credibility of the parties. The Coordinator will ordinarily complete this investigation within fifteen (15) working days of notification of the respondent and determine whether the preponderance of evidence indicates that harassment occurred.
After completing the investigation, the Teacher-in-Charge / Principal will meet with the complainant and respondent, either together or separately, to discuss an appropriate resolution of the complaint. After this meeting(s), the Teacher-in-Charge / Principal will prepare a statement of the facts and a conclusion.
If harassment is the finding, the Coordinator will find any prior history of infractions in the institutional memory file. The Coordinator will then recommend a resolution in writing and deliver the recommendation to the Teacher-in-Charge / Principal.
Teacher-in-Charge / Principal will review and accept or reject the Coordinator’s recommendation. Decision is ordinarily made within fifteen (15) working days of the receipt of the coordinator’s recommendation. The decision will be intimated in writing to the complainant, the respondent and the Coordinator. The case will be recorded in both the institutional tally and the institutional memory file.
If it is determined that there are insufficient grounds to support the claim of harassment, the parties will be so informed in writing and the complaint will be dismissed. The complaint will be recorded in the institutional tally and in the institutional memory file.
ICC or Internal Complaints Committee under The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013
Principal / Teacher-in-Charge will decide whether the whole matter and the proceedings are forwarded to the Internal Complain to Committee under The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
- The Committee is required to complete the inquiry within a time period of 90 days.
- On completion of the inquiry, the report will be sent to the Principal/Teacher-in-charge who is mandated to take action on the report within 60 days.
- The college is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee.
- The Complaints Committees enjoys the powers of civil courts for gathering evidence.
- The Complaints Committee is required to provide for conciliation before initiating an inquiry, if requested by the complainant.
- Penalties have been prescribed for employers. Non-compliance with the provisions of the Act shall be punishable with a fine of up to Rs. 50,000/-.
Process for Complaint and Inquiry
Please refer to the following flowchart which provides, in brief, the process to be followed by the aggrieved employee to make the complaint and by the employer to inquire into the complaint. The law allows female employees to request for conciliation in order to settle the matter although a monetary settlement should not be made as a basis of conciliation.
Action against Frivolous Complaints
So as to ensure that the protections contemplated under the Sexual Harassment Act do not get misused, provisions for action against “false or malicious” complainants have been made.
Before appealing to the court, if the situation demands college authority can refer the case to the Women’s commission.
In addition to ensuring compliance with the other provisions stipulated, the Sexual Harassment Act casts certain obligations upon the employer to, inter alia,
- provide a safe working environment
- display conspicuously at the workplace, the penal consequences of indulging in acts that may constitute sexual harassment and the composition of the Internal Complaints Committee
- organize workshops and awareness programmes at regular intervals for sensitizing employees on the issues and implications of workplace sexual harassment and organizing orientation programmes for members of the Internal Complaints Committee
- Treat sexual harassment as misconduct under the service rules and initiate action for misconduct.
The employer is also required to monitor the timely submission of reports by the ICC.
If an employer fails to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee or does not comply with any provisions contained therein, the Sexual Harassment Act prescribes a monetary penalty of up to INR 50,000 (approx. US$1,000). A repetition of the same offence could result in the punishment being doubled.
If the Principal / Teacher-in-Charge decides that the situation is not so grave to forward to the Internal Complain to Committee, Principal / Teacher-in-Charge will appoint a Harassment Hearing Committee to review the case and, after determining the facts, to make a recommendation.
Composition of Hearing Committee
The Teacher-in-Charge / Principal will appoint a five-member committee to hear the case. The members will be Teacher-in-Charge / Principal, the coordinator of the anti-harassment cell and three members selected from the Governing body members (Preferably external members).
- The Coordinator will provide Committee members with copies of the complete policy on Discriminatory Harassment; deliver to the Chairperson of the Hearing Committee a complete set of documents in the case; assist the Chairperson in scheduling a hearing, ordinarily within fourteen (14) days of the request for a hearing; assist the Chairperson in identifying the witnesses whom the complainant and respondent intend to call; and identify other persons who might assist the Committee.
- The hearing will be held, if possible, on consecutive working days and will be closed to persons other than those participating. However, either party may be accompanied by an advisor and/or legal coordinator, with whom he or she may consult, upon request, at reasonable times during the hearing. The intention to be accompanied by legal counsel or an advisor must be communicated to the Chairperson at least two (2) days prior to the hearing.
- Advisors and legal counsel may neither address the Committee nor question witnesses.
- The hearing will begin with the presentation of the complainant’s case and be followed by the respondent’s response. The Committee will then question both parties and give the parties an opportunity to question each other, provided, however, that upon the request of the complainant, the Committee shall establish an alternative questioning procedure if the complainant elects not to directly confront the respondent
- Witnesses will not be present except during their testimony. Witnesses, beginning with those of the complainant, will relate their knowledge of relevant facts through questions posed both by the Committee and by both parties. Once the Committee is satisfied that all relevant information has been presented, both parties may present summary statements and/or briefs to the Committee
- The Committee will meet privately to determine the facts and the extent to which they constitute discriminatory harassment under a preponderance of evidence standard.
If the Committee determines that discriminatory harassment has occurred, the committee will be given access to the record of any prior infractions by the respondent. The Committee will then assess the seriousness of the case based on the severity of the harassment, the extent to which it was a single or repeated incident, and any record of past infractions. In consultation with the Harassment Coordinator, the Committee will develop a recommendation on sanctions. (Possible sanctions include: letter of warning, letter of reprimand, mandatory counselling or training, reparation, suspension, dismissal or termination, any combination of these sanctions, as well as other appropriate alternatives.)
The Committee will communicate its report and recommendation to the Governing Body.
If the Governing Body accepts the report, it will determine and impose the sanctions. Where appropriate, the necessary steps will also be taken to reverse actions which the respondent may have taken in the harassment of the complainant (e.g., restoration of rights or privileges, review of academic or personnel evaluations). The Principal / Teacher-in-Charge will send written notice of the resolution of the complaint to the respondent, within ten (10) working days after the decision of Governing Body. The Coordinator will record the case in the institutional tally and the institutional memory file.
A copy of the decision will be placed in the respondent’s file; no record will be made in the complainant’s file.
If it is determined that there are insufficient grounds to support the claim of harassment, the parties will be so informed in writing and the complaint will be dismissed. The complaint will be recorded in the institutional tally and in the institutional memory file. If it is determined that a claim of harassment is knowingly false, the Hearing Committee will recommend appropriate sanctions to the complainant’s area and a notation will be made in the complainant’s file. This action will be recorded in the institutional tally and in the institutional memory file.
Procedures for Appeal
Respondent or complainant can appeal to the Governing Body in the following grounds
- The decision lacked a factual basis
- It did not conform to the procedural requirements of this policy
- It was based on bias
- It violated the respondent’s academic freedom
A formal appeal must be filed in writing within fourteen (14) working days after the respondent is informed of the decision.
Students: Students may appeal to the coordinator who will either sustain or reverse the decision, or refer the case back to the Governing Body for Student Affairs for further review and resubmission.
Faculty: For a sanction other than dismissal, faculty may appeal to the Principal. If the sanction is dismissal by the President during the term of a contract, faculty may appeal to the Faculty Hearing Committee
Non-Teaching Staff: Employees may appeal to the Principal, who will either sustain or reverse the decision, or refer the case back to the Governing Body for further review and resubmission.
SUMMARY OF RECORD KEEPING
Once a year, the Coordinator will report upon the number of discriminatory harassment complaints filed in the previous twelve (12) months. This report will not include names or identifying facts, but will include: the nature of the allegation; the status of the parties involved (e.g., faculty, staff); and whether or not discriminatory harassment was the finding.
The need to identify repeat offenders requires that the Coordinator keep a central file, separate from individual files. This file will include the names of individuals involved in written or unwritten harassment complaints.
No notations or records will be placed in individual files in the case of unwritten complaints, whether or not the situation is resolved. In written complaints, a guilty finding and/or the sanctions imposed will be recorded in the respondent’s file. Similarly, a finding that a knowingly false charge has been filed will be recorded in the complainant’s file.
The substance of this policy is included in the college website.
Education and Awareness
Students and faculties are briefed about the harassment policy during induction program.